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How to Coach Like Steve Jobs

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Because coaching is such a complex and multi-faceted job (if done correctly) I've always felt that I could learn a lot of applicable information and strategies from a variety of groups and disciplines.

Recently, I came across a book called "Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs," by Carmine Gallo that discusses what the author considers to be the driving principles behind Job's success.

While the book is not written specifically for basketball coaches it does provide a rough outline that can be used as a blueprint by all of us in the profession. In the following paragraphs the principles are Steve Jobs' but the applications are mine.

1. Do what you Love

Why do you coach? To stay involved in the game? To stay competitive? Because you like to teach? Is it so you can spend more time with your kids? To make some extra money? Those might be valid reasons to start coaching but I don't think they are good reasons to keep coaching.

If you take a quick mental inventory of all the coaches you know you'll realize that there are those guys who coach basketball and then there are basketball coaches - and there's a huge difference between the two groups! I imagine it's possible to be great at something you just tolerate but I would think that's very unlikely. If you don't love it, don't do it!

2. Put a Dent in the Universe

Don't let your own perceptions limit what you or your players can accomplish. Dream big. Be creative. What you might lack in budget and/or staff shouldn't effect in the least bit how you teach, prepare, or interact with your players. Your goal should be to have every kid in school want to be involved in your program or to have every kid for miles around want to be part of your club.

3. Kick Start your Brain

As a coach when you are through learning, you are through! Attend clinics, watch videos, and read books for new and better ways to do things. Learn everything you can and then distill it down to its simplest form and teach your players only the best of the best. If you're not sure where to start check out BasketballClassroom.com which might be the most comprehensive coaching resource available today.

4. Sell Dreams not Products

Understand what your players want and then help them reach their goals. I've found that most high school players can be at least 10% better than they are and most can improve 20%. Middle school and youth players have even more room for development. Unfortunately most players have no idea how good they can eventually become if they work hard and you need to give them a glimpse of that vision. Remember, being an athlete is not always about what you get, it's about what you become in the process that's most important!

5. Say "No!" to 1000 Things

In fact, say no to most things! Compromising your integrity, lame excuses, players who don't work hard, sloppy execution, the internet's offense of the week, explaining yourself to parents, catering to your "star" player, and taking shortcuts are just a few of the things that should always produce an emphatic "No!" Say no and eliminate anything and everything that is unnecessary and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much bigger your program will grow.

6. Create Insanely Great Experiences

Right now the scores are important, the stats are interesting and the outcome of each game is crucial. However, that won't be the case ten years from now as most of the specific details surrounding your season will long be forgotten. What will be remembered, however, is a lasting impression of the overall experience as a whole. Along with winning games and developing individual skill sets, do whatever you can to provide everyone in your program with positive and fun experiences.

7. Master the Message

Great coaches are great communicators. Whether it's primarily spoken, written, body language, multimedia or a combination of everything, great coaches know how to be motivational, inspirational, and informative. If you want to coach like Steve Jobs you need to vividly describe your vision, get everybody in the program on the same page, and be a living, breathing, walking billboard for your program and its culture.

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